VW, IBM Open Joint 'Garage Factory' to Develop Digital Services

Working side by side will improve efficiency, the companies believe.

Volkswagen

Volkswagen and IBM are working more closely together. So close, in fact, that employees from the two companies are occupying the same space. The two worldwide brands recently set up a joint office space in Berlin to develop new digital services for the automaker's customers.

The two companies call the space a "garage factory." It was created to help develop Volkswagen's "We Experience" system, which uses IBM's cloud-computing platform to create a more personalized experience for users of VW infotainment systems. It's part of a five-year partnership that was announced in September 2017.

Sharing office space is meant to improve efficiency, according to CNET. Putting the two teams in the same space should allow them to communicate with each other more easily. Instead of sending emails or scheduling meetings, a VW employee can simply get up, walk across the room, and talk to their IBM counterpart.

The first product of this collaboration is We Experience, which offers drivers personalized recommendations based on where they are and what they're doing. Under a pilot program in Germany, We Experience offers drivers discount coupons for local retailers. As a driver uses these coupons, the system learns their preferences and tailors future recommendations accordingly. This is managed using IBM's cloud-computing platform.

Volkswagen isn't the only automaker contemplating these kinds of services. BMW is also teaming up with IBM to harvest data from connected cars. General Motors is trying to get people to buy fuel and coffee through their dashboards, which will generate troves of data on consumer habits. Intel and Warner Bros. have discussed beaming advertisements into future self-driving cars. The car is one of the last remaining sanctuaries from commercialization, but that is changing.